Precise Timing

Ray Sneed rattles off the benefits of Helena Chemical’s AGRIntelligence program with ease. The cotton, soybean, corn and wheat grower has employed the company’s program for three years now on his operation near Millington, TN.

“What we’re after is better, more efficient use of our money. If it’s going to cut down on applications of fertilizer that we don’t need, and increase applications of what we do need, then it’s a win-win situation. What we’re after is increased yield for every acre involved,” says Sneed.

Though he’s three years into a five-year program, Sneed says he’s already seeing the benefits of AGRIntelligence. “I’m starting to see less usage of fertilizer. I’m starting to see more variables in where we’re applying lime. Our lime costs are going down. And we’re seeing our yields picking up in those places where we use the yield maps and are being site-specific with our applications.”

The AGRIntelligence package Sneed utilizes is a precision management program that features four products used to assist growers. Product offerings in the program include HyGround which assists with soil management, TRUYIELD for yield data management, ONPOINT for storage of field records and INSPEX, which assists with precision scouting information.

The programs have become more popular among growers now that cotton prices have demanded that inputs must be managed more diligently. And in some areas where the number of consultants has dwindled, growers have been inclined to take a closer first-hand look at their operations. Sales in the AGRIntelligence program have increased significantly in the last year, according to Steve Seamon, Helena’s National Marketing Manager.

“If you’re comfortable with the money you’ve been bringing in and its happened that way for years and years, you’re probably not going to be really anxious to find something new,” says Seamon. “But as your cost fluctuates a lot, you’re going to want to have a better handle on what’s going on in your field. That’s where we help out. This is basically an accounting program for an individual field.”

A prime example of the accounting comparison is Helena’s TRUYIELD program. The product helps break down yield data based upon variables as wide ranging as soil type, varieties planted, management practices and applications of different pesticides. The idea behind the product is to help growers get the maximum results from each field based on nearly every possible variable.

Because of the nature of the comparisons of the TRUYIELD program, the longer a grower employs the system, the more helpful the program becomes. Multiple years of use of the program allow for greater data collection and easier analysis of field variables. Seamon says the increased data over time causes Helena customers to become more satisfied with each passing year. “I don’t know that we’ve lost anyone that we’ve gotten on the system. We really don’t have anybody that ever walks away. They usually hang on to us once they get hooked on,” says Seamon.

Such is the case with Sneed and his operation just north of Memphis. Sneed Farms has utilized the HyGround program in recent years to become more efficient with his input applications. Compared to earlier methods of soil sampling, Sneed says the HyGround system provides for more accurate testing.

“It allows you to go out and soil sample on a smaller scale. In the past you would go out and sample on a 5 acre grid or a 2 acre grid. Unless you get down to at least an acre grid, then it’s not very cost effective,” Sneed says.

Of course, in addition to the savings the programs offer to a grower’s expenses, the AGRIntelligence systems also benefit conservation efforts. After a presentation from Helena to civic leaders in Shelby County, where Sneed’s farm is located, the County implemented a cost-sharing program with area farmers aimed at improving the local environment. That program has worked so well that the state of Tennessee adopted a similar cost-sharing program for all of the state’s growers.

For Sneed and growers like him, though, the true benefit of the program has been the savings it’s brought them from lower inputs and increased yields.

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